A 17-year-old former Lodi High School student is in critical condition at a San Luis Obispo hospital more than a week after a car struck him on a highway while he was helping a stranded motorist.
On April 14, Michael Cash was on his way home with some friends after going to a rodeo at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo when they noticed a car stopped in the middle of Highway 101.
They looped back at the next exit ramp. Cody Oakley, 17, had struck a stroller in the middle of the highway and then a guard rail before coming to a stop in the fast lane of the highway, California Highway Patrol officer J. W. Townsen said.
It was about 9:45 p.m., the road was dark and Oakley could not turn on the lights or start the car. Cash got out to help push the car out of the roadway.
While Cash and Oakley were both at the rear of the car, 20-year-old Neisha Diaz, in a Pontiac, collided with both of them, Townsen said. Oakley suffered a broken femur and ankle. Cash suffered severe head trauma and broke both his legs.
Diaz was found at fault for the accident, but currently faces no criminal charges, Townsen said.
Cash is still at the Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in a medically induced coma and went into a six-hour surgery on his legs on Monday, his stepfather Daniel Hirschler said.
Cash was born and raised in Lodi and attended Lodi High up until mid-March, when he moved to San Luis Obispo with his dad. He is an avid fisherman and spent many afternoons putting in lines at Lodi Lake. His favorite thing to catch is large-mouthed bass.
“He is like a little cowboy to the fullest. He loves fishing, riding horses, loved country music, really big on country music,” Hirschler said.
At his new school in San Luis Obispo, Cash was already starting to make friends during his first week of school, Hirschler said. A blind girl in one of his classes told the family that Cash would always come up to her and say hi.
“He’s already made such an impression on her because he would come up and say, ‘Hi, Megan, it’s Mike,’” Hirschler said.
He is focused on his family, always spending time with his 16-year-old sister Janelle, who is a Lodi High student. The family has opened a bank account at the Bank of Stockton to help with the expenses of commuting and staying down in San Luis Obispo.
When he found out that his stepson stopped to help a stranded motorist, Hirschler said he was not surprised at all.
“He was just trying to do a good deed by helping someone get the car off the road, and then unfortunately this had to happen,” he said.